Friday, March 25, 2011

Book review of StarScout Rising: First Trail by Gary Darby


That's the word that kept running through my head as I read this book. There is no doubt that author Gary Darby is intelligent. I was amazed over and over again at Darby's explanations of some fairly complex scientific subjects in the framework of the story. These explanations were done where they enhanced the story, and didn't detract from it. If anything, it gave the book a sense of credibility many sci-fi books lack.

That was another thing I enjoyed about this book. It was a science fiction book in the truest sense of the meaning. Often fantasy and science fiction are lumped into the same category, but they are quite different. I bought into the situations in StarScout Rising: First Trail because they were all believable in the world he created. Having somewhat of a scientific background, I saw how Darby had taken things that could be scientifically possible and incorporated them into the day to day life of the characters. Just as we would talk about cell phones and the internet, Darby's characters refer to Life-Sensors and Ion Cannons.

The primary character is Del Baldura, a sixteen year old in training to become a StarScout. While Del's story is the primary one of the book, there are several side stories and characters that enlarge the universe where this story takes place. Del finds himself in charge of a group of junior scouts in training when things take an unexpected turn. I don't want to give too much a way, but the trials that Del face are complex and not always black and white. He has to balance what it truly means to be a StarScout against his primal human nature.

There are many cool references throughout the book that I enjoyed: the two thousand stripling warriors--the Gadion Faction--the Scout Oath and Covenant. Not knowing what these are references to won't spoil your enjoyment of the book, but those that do "get it" will understand.

I applaud Darby for all his hard work and effort he put into the book. Like any craft, you get better at it the more you do it. The action sequences later on in the book were especially well developed and paced.

The only two things that I found to be a bit distracting was the overall flow of the book and the untraditional way the book concluded.

Let me explain.

There are twenty five chapters in the book. The longest chapters are toward the front--with one clocking in at fifty-two pages. Toward the end, the pacing is better, with chapters more in the ten to twenty page range--a couple as short as five pages. There is nothing wrong with short or long chapters, but I found the pacing was more enjoyable toward the end.

Secondly, the book introduced a lot of interesting characters and storylines. It asks many questions, but gives few answers. Granted, this is volume one, which means I hope to get answers to the questions at some point in time. After I finished the book, I kept looking at the end to see if some more pages had magically appeared, but alas. . .

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I could tell the author loved the story and the characters--which translated into me enjoying them as well. As I stated before, this is a true science fiction book. The closest work I can compare it to would be The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke. It's a science fiction book with compelling characters that at the same time isn't afraid to challenge the reader to imagine what the future may hold.

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this book to review, but that in no way influenced my review.

StarScout Rising: First Trail can be purchased here.

No comments:

Post a Comment